Croatia and Slovenia Vow to Solve Bank Row

A bilateral row about a liquidated bank, which threatens to derail Croatia’s EU accession in July, could soon be solved, the Croatian and Slovenian foreign ministers said on Wednesday.After a two-hour meeting in Brussels, the Croatian and Slovenian foreign ministers have agreed to meet again on February 6 with financial experts from both countries, saying they expect a solution to be found soon.

“When we define the solution, to which we are very close, we will present it to our governments, and I’m sure they will accept it,” Vesna Pusic of Croatia said.

“We are close to the solution, and with a good will and positive energy I’m convinced we can reach it,” Karl Erjavec of Slovenia added, noting that in that case, “a two-thirds majority in the Slovenian parliament can be guaranteed for the ratification of the Croatian EU accession treaty”.

Wednesday minister’s meeting was seen as the last opportunity to find a solution for Ljubljanska bank problem, which is a precondition for Slovenia before it will ratify Croatia’s accession treaty. If it does not do so, Croatia will not be able to join the EU on July 1 as scheduled.

The Slovenian parliament is holding up ratification of the accession agreement because of the unresolved dispute about the bank, which was liquidated after the Yugoslav state dissolved.

Many Croatian citizens lost their savings as a result, and the row over the bank has dogged relations between Zagreb and Ljubljana for two decades.

Several lawsuits against Ljubljanska have been filed in the courts in Croatia, and are backed by the Croatian government.

Slovenia wants Croatia to withdraw those government guarantees as a precondition for Slovenia’s ratification of Croatian EU accession.

Croatia maintains that it has fulfilled all its obligations from the negotiations with Brussels, so Slovenia should ratify the accession agreement without extra preconditions.

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